June 01, 2012

Upcoming information on Google Product Search / Product Listing Ad changes.

We have had a flood of questions from retailers of all sizes in regards to the big changes at Google Product Search.  To help everyone get their heads around the changes and plan accordingly, we have a variety of information coming out shortly (webinars, blog posts and in-person at IRCE.  Here are the details:

Webinars

We have two complimentary webinars planned, anyone is invited:

  1. Assessing the Impact of the Recent Google Product Search Changes - Thiswebinar is Friday, June 1 at 1pm ET.  You can register here.  Google will not be on thiswebinar.  Click here to register.
  2. Introducing Google Shopping - co-presented by Google - This webinar will be Monday, June 4 at 4pm ET.  Google will be co-present and be available for Q+A - this webinar will focus mostly on Q+A with Google. Click here to register.

Blog

Going forwad, we will be posting all information related to Google Product Search and Google Shopping at our comparison shopping engine blog - CSEStrategies.com

IRCE

As usual, ChannelAdvisor will have a large presence at the annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago next week June 5-7.  Our booth is 1401.

As you come in the exhibit hall through the right entrance, it's a ginormous booth right there.  Here's a handy map in case you can't find us.

Our booth will be staffed with experts that are able to talk to you in detail about these changes and any of your other burning e-commerce questions/needs.

Irce_map

Finally, I will be speaking at IRCE about Pinterest and it's impact on e-commerce.  The session is Thursday at 4:15-5pm in the social commerce track.

If you have any questions you want answered, feel free to post in comments as well.

Scot Wingo

CEO and Co-founder

ChannelAdvisor

 

 

 

 

May 31, 2012

RIP Google Product Search (Froogle) - What it means for the Google and the e-commerce Industry

Rip_gps

  • Part I - Details on the death of Google Product Search. (you are here)
  • Part II - What does this mean for Google and the industry?
  • Part III - What should retailers do? Mitigation strategies

RIP Google Product Search / Froogle - What it means for Google and the E-commerce ecosystem

Part I - Details on the death of Google Product Search.

Today,  Google has made an announcement that will have the biggest impact on retailers since they launched Google Adwords - the end of life of the Google Product Search (Also known as Google Shopping or Froogle - for this series of blogs we will call it GPS for brevity).

The details are available in this blog post on the Google Commerce blog, but here's our quick summary: Everything you need to know about the death of GPS:

  • The new name will be Google Shopping
  • Free goes away
  • Free is replaced with Product Listing Ads - aka PLA - PLA is a program that has been around for a while that puts the image and price on the right gutter of normal search results.
  • There will be an incentive for retailers that sign up for PLA early and move everything early.

Here's what the new UI will look like->

New_gps_ui


Timing

This is still a bit fuzzy, but what we are hearing:

  • Today - announced (May 31, 2012)
  • June - Testing of new UI commences
  • July 1 - Shifting traffic to PLA at scale
  • Oct 1 - All results will be PLA (I bet this happens faster and this is a worst case - I'd plan on Aug 1 - more on this in the retailer mitigation post)
  • This is the US schedule, the other countries will follow through 2013.

What does this mean for Google, E-commerce and online retailers?

We've put together a detailed analysis using our proprietary data on both the GPS and PLA programs.

The headlines are:

  • Google Product Search drives ~$650m in annual sales (or Gross Merchandise Value) in the US. 
  • Google Product Search drives > $1.3B in global sales
  • If you replaced that lost GMV with PLA spend, you would have to spend $130m in the US/yr or > $270m/yr globally.   

The analysis

This table shows how we arrive at the $650m / $1.3b in global GMV using ChannelAdvisor's proprietary data and Comscore's data on Google Product Search:

Gps_gmv_calc


The second table shows how we arrive at the PLA cost to replace that free GMV:

Pla_cost_calc


Conclusion:

This change is going to create a substantial shift in the e-commerce ecosystem.  Google is clearly the winner, generating possibly > $250m in new revenue into the PLA system and dramatically increasing the monetization of every e-commerce query.

That's the surface impact, in the next post, we will explore the secondary and tertiary impact on the industry.  In the third post, we will discuss mediation strategies for retailers.

(Note to ChannelAdvisor customers: we are hosting a series of Webinars and strategy calls to help everyone with remediation strategies around this very impactful Google change).

SeekingAlpha disclosure - I am long Google and Amazon, eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 30, 2012

Yahoo Unveils New Browser: Axis--What this means for retailers

We don’t blog much about Yahoo!, but last week they threw us for a loop, and honestly did something that has me scratching my head a bit. Last week, Yahoo! announced Axis, their own browser. On the heels of the announcement that Google’s Chrome had become the world’s most popular web browser, the hoopla around Axis was minimal, but we’ve taken a quick tour and are here to give you the recap.

StatCounter-browser-ww-monthly-201104-201204

First, for those of you who, like myself, need to get your bearings before processing the impact of this, let’s start at the basics. Axis is a browser. Like Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and for you old folks like me, Netscape. Yes, I said it. Google.com and Bing are Search Engines. You can “Google” something from IE and Safari. Chrome’s default search engine is Google and I’m assuming Axis’s default is Yahoo!. OK, now that we have that straight, let’s talk about features and impacts.

Axis is boasting a “seamless” browsing experience across devices. For now it looks like only iOS systems are supported. They do have a cool “continue from” button that allows you to pick up right where you left off, but keep in mind that you have to be signed in on each device. Yahoo! has not found a miracle solution to the “cookie across devices” attribution issue. (Insert sad trombone here.) Axis also incorporates Google’s Instant Results and Google’s Site Preview features. 

ChannelAdvisorAxisScreenshot

Now, hold onto your hats kids, because here comes the somewhat confusing part. Axis does not have ads. It does not have space for ads, it serves no ads and you cannot (at this time) buy ad space. I find this bizarre for two reasons. First, it lacks a revenue stream. Secondly because since Bing started serving ads for the Yahoo! search results page, we’ve seen Bing/Yahoo! combined search query volume decrease significantly compared to the pre-merger combined totals. While some people might prefer an ads-free experience, advertisers are already looking for ways to recover lost BingHoo (that’s a ChannelAdvisor-coined term) traffic. Yahoo! has stated that the search experience will be completely independent from Bing even though the results themselves are Bing powered.

So, what does this mean for you? Unfortunately for Yahoo!, probably not much. Unless adoption of access becomes quite aggressive you probably won’t see much of an impact overall. If it begins to look like Axis is going to be a hit, I predict two things. First, that Google will immediately launch these same unique features of axis into Chrome, plus about 10 more. Second, that Yahoo! will monetize Axis with ads. Voila, problem averted. 

In the meantime, check out Axis here: 

http://axis.yahoo.com/

Cool and useful, or gimmicky? We’d love to know what you think!

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services

May 23, 2012

Google Auction Insights

Google logoGoogle announced yesterday an exciting update to keyword level data. Called auction insights, high volume keywords will now (or in the near future as it rolls out) show data similar to ChannelAdvisor’s competition watch, including who else is showing for that keyword, impression share, top of page % and “above competitors” % numbers.

Here at ChannelAdvisor, we’re excited about this report, but urge our customers to use caution and logic, not emotion, when making decisions based on the metrics you see. For years we’ve used our own competition watch to see where we have opportunities for greater visibility on critical keywords. We’ve also used keyword monitor to monitor affiliate activity and review competitor ads on keywords.

Where we think the Auction Insights report gets tricky is in providing visibility and therefore attention on the “% higher than” and “% top position” numbers. The innocent side to it is this, you know that searching on your own keywords is bad, but you can’t help it. So at the advice of Google, you use the AdPreview tool. But you still toss and turn at night wondering “why does my average position say 1.7 and yet I NEVER see my own ad in the top spots.” Well, now you’ll be able to see that you’re only in top position 70% of the time and rest easy with the understanding that 30% of queries are in lower positions. However, you’re a feisty competitive bunch, ecommerce retailers. So, you know that in the back of your mind you’re saying this “Wait, I’m in top spots 70% of the time. Website “X” is there 83%. That’s not OK. I must, no I WILL end up there 84% of the time.” Insert here a ridiculous bidding war and lower ROI all around.

So, should you check out this report? Absolutely. But, before you change bids, even if it’s top sales driving keyword, remember, ROI is king. You’re way too smart to be tricked into paying more just to be on top. With tools like ChannelAdvisor bid rules you can let our software manage a ROI goal for you. Remember, you want to sell more not spend more!

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services

March 22, 2012

AdWords Does A Double-Take?

While we’re all accustomed to seeing new ad format testing on Google, yesterday a Campaign Manager on our Search Services team discovered the ad below.

Dynamic Search Ad blog post

For those of you not in love with counting characters, there are most definitely 50 characters in the headline. If you’re doing the math at home, you know that’s double the number of characters allowed in a headline. Additionally, this isn’t a “longer headline ad” as you’ll see the full Description Line 1 and Description Line 2 showing below the URL.

So, what gives?  Did Google’s headline counter break? Nope, this is a Dynamic Search Ad, currently in beta.  The headline is pulling the product title from the company’s website. These ads allow Google to fill in gaps in keyword coverage in your account for you. The Google crawler goes through your website and then matches on relevant queries not included in your account. Dynamic Search Ads generate a dynamic ad title, apparently with much longer character limits.

Unlike ChannelAdvisor’s Inventory Driven Search, DSAs will fill in head and torso terms as well as product level keyword coverage.  We’ve seen mixed results so far, essentially depending on how extensive the gaps in keyword coverage are. Sites with high inventory changes would probably benefit significantly more than lead generation, for example. In addition, we recommend setting aside a good bit of time initially to fill in negative keywords where the matches aren’t perfect. Lastly, be sure you understand the somewhat advanced features provided by Google to optimize these ads. For example, you can use negative keywords to restrict searches but also exclude sections of your website from the crawlers.

Look for Dynamic Search Ads coming out of beta in the future.  If you’re interested in testing these out contact your Google team to see if your account would qualify!

For more information on ChannelAdvisor's PPC management software, please visit http://www.channeladvisor.com/solutions/the-platform/paid-search/.

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services

March 15, 2012

Google Takes On...Wikipedia?

Google logoYesterday, The Wall Street Journal reported on some major changes coming to Google’s “Organic” search results in the next few months. Don’t worry, this isn’t a change to the algorithm that ranks search results, but rather an “enhancement” to the information displayed on the search results page. Instead of ads and links to websites containing what Google assumes to be the answer to your query, Google will begin displaying some of those answers right on the search results page. Google will use what it is calling “semantic search” to better understand the intent or meaning behind the words users input into the search query box. Backing up semantic search is years of data amassed in the past few years by Google users’ query behavior.

So, why the change? Given that we’ve heard a lot from Google about Mobile in the past 12+ months, I think the reason is two-fold. First, predicting someone’s needs and providing those responses in a more accessible way on mobile searches is critical to keeping up with the lady we know and love as “Siri” from Apple.

Additionally, I’m sure Google would like to keep users on the search results page longer. Why send users elsewhere, and potentially away from paid ads, to read content that Google can provide right on the search page? In addition, many savvy internet users start their queries elsewhere, like Wikipedia, when they just want answers to specific questions. If Google brings those users to the search results page instead, provides them their initial answer as well as paid search links to further detail on these queries, ad revenue is likely to increase. While the use of “semantic search” isn’t being included in paid search initially, a version of it already exists. Check out “Broad Match (session based)” in the Google AdWords help center:

http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=68074

Google blog post

This matching feature shows ads based on an individual user’s prior searches. So, let’s say you’re advertising a hotel in New York and a local user queries “New York Rental Car,” followed  by “New York Things To Do.” Your ad may show, based on Google’s inference, that this user is someone looking for travel-related things in New York. In theory, with the change to Google’s natural search results, after your first query you might get weather information, rental car links, hotel links, event links and more, along with relevant ads.

So what do we expect for retailers with this change? I would anticipate minimal impact to paid search initially. Maybe an uplift in Google Product Search as those search results are incorporated. If someone searches “Best Price On Dyson DC39 Animal,” wouldn’t it make sense for Google to go ahead and show the best price based on the products in Google Merchant accounts?

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services

_____________________________________________________________________

Download this Google AdWords Reporting eBook to learn how to improve your PPC management with advanced, revenue-focused, analytics.

Google AdWords Reporting eBook


 

March 07, 2012

Google's New Display Network Reporting

It’s a monumental day for Display Network loving advertisers everywhere. Well, in the US at least. If you’ve signed into your AdWords account today, you might have noticed this message:

Display Network Tab

Besides combining the networks and audiences tab into one, you’ll also suddenly see Keyword level reporting for Display Network campaigns. Do I need to repeat that? Yes, Keyword level data!

So, that means that you can now tell which keyword triggered your ads, which keyword(s) drive placement that drives conversions and how to bid more strategically on the Display Network. Call me greedy, but I wish that Google had made it easier to piece the puzzle together. Maybe showing the placements that a keyword matched your ads to by drilling into the keyword by clicking on it in the UI? You can still piece that information together in campaigns that have relatively few conversions, and bid up that keyword, or the placement or both.

It’s my understanding that this reporting won’t be integrated into the AdWords API until summer, so for now, you still need to put in tracking work-arounds for tracking through most 3rd party software platforms. Still, as a former Googler, I literally never thought we’d see the day that this data was shared, so it’s a big step in terms of transparency into the Display Network. More to come on how to use this newfound spring of information to optimize your Display Network efforts!

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services

March 05, 2012

Google Display Network Tools

Display networkThere are several tips and tools available to make building and optimizing your Display Network campaigns easier.  This article will discuss the general tips for Display Network Optimization as well as the tools we recommend using to build and manage Display Network campaigns. Before you get started using the tools below, be sure to review our article on Display Network Best Practices to learn more about goal setting and targeting options for the Display Network.

1. Contextually Targeting
Once you know how you’d like to target, Google has some tools that will help you build out your campaigns. For contextually targeted campaigns or campaigns that will layer keywords on top of any other targeting method, you’ll need themes and lots of them. This list should include themes related to your business, your products and your target customer. This is the only scenario where I recommend the strategy of running on your competitor’s brand names.

If you’re having trouble coming up with themes, do a little digging with a tool like Quantcast to better understand who the customers coming to your site are and the other sites they visit. Think outside the box too. If you sell exercise equipment, consider advertising on themes like “high blood pressure” or “low fat cooking” to capture consumers interested in other health related issues. 

 

Display network tools 1

Now that you have a basic list of themes, log into your AdWords account and go under the “Tools and Analysis” tab to find the Contextual Targeting Tool. Drop your themes in the box, up to 10 at a time, and let Google’s tool do the heavy lifting for you. The tool will split out your themes into granular sub-themes complete with keyword lists. Use the tool to generate many ad groups for your contextually targeted Display Network campaign. Expand the themes using the plus box to get more granularity within the tool. Once you’ve accrued three or so weeks of traffic in the campaign, review the ad group themes that are performing the best and drop those back into the tool to get even more granular themes built out for you! The tool will also provide ad group level suggested bids and predicted placements for the keyword groups.

2. Placement Targeting
If you decide to do a combination of targeting that includes managed placements, the best place to start is with Doubleclick Ad Planner. This tool allows you to generate a list of placements to target that meet the criteria you select. You can get very specific or fairly general, depending on how many attributes you choose to select. The tool will then tell you which ad formats and sizes the site selects and an estimated number of daily impressions your ad can receive. Composition Index refers to how closely the site matches your audience, while Reach refers to what percentage of the users in that audience would be reached on that site alone. 

Display network tools 2
Ad Planner is also a great tool to use if you want to know whether or not a particular site accepts ads through the Google Display Network. On the Search By Site tab, input the URL you’re wondering about. The tool will tell you if the site accepts ads, and in which formats and sizes. It will also include an annotation on whether the site is part of the Google Display Network, as well as reach and page view estimate figures for the site. 


If the Ad Planner tool overwhelms you, try the Google Placement tool instead. Simply log into your AdWords account and go to the Placement Tool under Tools and Analysis. Here you can generate a list of placements available on the Google Display Network either by putting in phrases that are important to your business, site categories or a similar website to one where you want to display.  Click search, and the tool will show you a list of sites you can then select and add to a placement targeted campaign. If you’re running on Placements in conjunction with Keywords, your ads will show on those placements only when the keyword matches the theme of a page on that placement (site).

3. Category Targeting
If you’re a fan of Category Targeting, the best tool for seeing what sort of sites your ads will appear on using Category Targeting is the Google Placement Tool within your AdWords account. Simply use the category menu to select the category you plan to run on and click “Search.”  The tool will display a list of sites and the ad types they accept. There is also a link to “view site profile” which will take you out to Doubleclick Ad Planner and show you the information pertaining to that specific site.

I hope this has helped you to understand the tools available to plan, launch and refine your Display Network campaigns. For more help on Display Advertising, see our previous articles on Display Network Best Practices.

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services



 

March 02, 2012

Google Display Network Best Practices - Part 2

Display network

Happy Friday! This is part two of the Display Network Best Practices article from yesterday. Below are additional tips to help you conquer Display Network advertising. 

Part Two: Ad Copy, Frequency Capping and Optimization Tips

4. Ad Copy: If you are contextually targeting, text ads on the Display Network can function correctly with Keyword Insertion. The keyword that most closely matches the theme of the page will be inserted into your ad.  If the theme cannot be determined, the system will use your default ad text. Similar to Keyword Insertion on the Search Network, I would recommend including one ad without Keyword Insertion and comparing performance of the two.

If you’re using Display or Image ads, remember that your ad typically needs to outbid four text ads that would take the same amount of space on the page, so you should plan to bid higher. I find that increasing your maximum cost per click by approximately 70% is usually enough to get impressions on similar sites with your image ad variations. In any case, keeping consistent messaging between text and display ads, and having that messaging mirror the language in other advertising channels, will resonate with customers. Remarketing campaigns should include a promotional code or offering to urge customers to return to the site and complete their purchases.

5. Frequency Capping: Under campaign settings, you can cap the number of times a unique user sees your ads on the Display Network. This is especially important for Remarketing campaigns or when customers are sensitive to being overstimulated by your message.  You can set the cap on impressions per day, week or month at the campaign, ad group or ad level. This means you could limit the number of times per month a unique user sees a particular ad. In order to keep reaching users with unique content you want to make sure you have a wide variety of ads within the ad group to show those users. 

Display network part 2

6. Display Network Optimization Tips: General tips for optimizing your Display Network campaigns include managing bids for placements where you’ve received acceptable ROI, keeping ad text fresh and relevant to the theme of the ad group and using the exclusion tools to exclude sites, topics and keyword themes. As with any pay per click campaign, bid optimization also plays a role.

When you find sites where your ads perform well, you can adjust the bids for clicks when your ads appear on those sites by adding placement level bids. This will increase the likelihood that your ads will win auctions on these sites more frequently. By changing your ad text and using all available ad formats, you will increase the chances that your ads will be noticed. Remember, a main obstacle on the Display Network is actually grabbing the attention of someone engaged in the content on the page. 

Display network part 2-2

Using negative keywords on the Display Network performs similarly to using negative keywords on the Search Network. A negative keyword tells the AdWords system that you do not want your ads to show if the theme of the page is matched to that keyword. Site exclusion prevents your ads from showing on a specific site, and category exclusion will prevent your ads from showing on sites matched to topics and site types. Be sure you have data behind your decisions to exclude categories. Many advertisers assume that parked domains could not perform well, only to discover they have great ROI!

Lastly, be aware that bidding may impact Display Network campaigns more substantially than on the Search Network. This is because by raising your bids, you may begin to show on a whole new set of sites. Sometimes raising bids on a poor ROI campaign, while restricting the specific sites that are not performing well, will improve ROI. This is because you can win auctions on a new set of sites, potentially ones that have more competition but drive “higher” quality traffic.

I hope this article provided you with the information you need to test the waters in the Display Network. With the right planning, the Display Network can prove to be an impressive compliment to well structured Search campaigns and an important tool for retail focused pay per click advertisers. Tools for creating a Display Network campaigns will be discussed in another post early next week. 

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services

March 01, 2012

Google Display Network Best Practices

Display network

The majority of time a person spends on the internet is on pages in the Google Display Network, so it is important for retailers to advertise here to reach new audiences and increase conversions. It’s important that you feel confident creating and managing campaigns on the Display Network, but setting up these campaigns can be daunting for most advertisers.

This two-part article will guide you through Display Network targeting options, best practices for your campaign structure and ad copy, frequency capping options and optimization tips. Together these tips will put your mind at easy and give you the confidence you need to master your Display Network efforts.

Part One: Goals, Targeting and Campaign Structure

1. Goals: Keep in mind that the Display Network can successfully achieve both branding and conversion goals. However, before you get started, you should determine whether you want to hold your Display Network campaigns to the same ROI goals as Search. While some methods of targeting do see similar ROI, many are slightly lower but offer long-term benefits to both PPC and your other marketing channels.

2. Targeting: The first step in setting up a Display campaign is to determine your targeting method. Display Network targeting can cast a wide net, or target fairly specific sites and pages. As a rule of thumb, the more targeted approach tends to be smaller in reach but have the potential to lead to higher ROI and vice versa. From most specific (smallest reach) to most general (largest reach) the Display Network targeting options are as follows:

  • Remarketing
  • Keyword Contextual Targeting
  • Interest Category Marketing
  • ROS Placement Targeting
  • Topic (category) Targeting

Keep in mind you can also make custom combinations to further refine your traffic by layering two targeting options together. Whenever attempting to do this, be sure to select the second targeting button under Display Network settings at the campaign level. 

Display network image 1

Google provides a handy chart for understanding how the layered campaigns will perform here: http://support.google.com/adwords/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1209882.

3. Campaign Structure: As a general rule, keyword contextual targeted campaigns should have many ad groups, each with only a handful of keywords and one clear theme. (Stay tuned for a coming article on Display Network tools which will teach you how to use the Contextual Targeting tool to create just such a campaign.) While AdWords will technically read roughly 25 keywords in your Contextually Targeted campaigns, I recommend using far fewer. Usually, five keywords are enough to build out a clear theme. In fact, Google’s tool will build ad groups with as few as one keyword. When running on competitor’s brand names you can easily run on just one or two variations of the brand name in an ad group. Display Network campaigns are the only scenario where I recommend running on competitor brand terms.

In addition, I recommend creating a separate campaign for each type of targeting. While you can technically have one ad group with keywords and another with managed placements, it’s much easier to understand performance across the targeting types at a glance if you keep them separate. This also makes it less likely that you’ll target unintentionally (either too specific or too broad). As for ad types, I would further segment your ad groups by ad type so that you can bid differently based on the ROI of each ad type. 

Display network 2

Stay tuned for more Display Network best practices in the second part of this article -- Part Two: Ad Copy, Frequency Capping and Optimization Tips… coming tomorrow.

Blog post by Jackie Jenkins, Global Manager, Search Services